“All the talk around here …about the Concert for Diana…is that William and Harry…are a total class act.” This was the assessment of the respected journalist who has covered news in places as far apart as Bali and Iraq, ason Morrison. He was broadcasting on Sydney’s highest rating programme, Alan Jones’ 2GB breakfast programme. And everyone I have spoken to, including republicans, was impressed by the Princes.
Incidentally, while the extract broadcast on the Nine network led the free television ratings from 930PM, and was a close second at 830PM, I was not aware that the full programme was on pay TV the night before. One reader writes "The entire 6 hour concert was shown on Foxtel the previous night live, as well, so even more people, including me, saw some or all, or recorded it, in addition to those who saw the cut down version on 9." The audience then, just in Australia, was very large.
In the meantime I sent the following letter to The Australian which was published on 4 July, 2007:
”Like an antipodean Kitty Kelley, the self-styled royal watcher Barry Everingham continues to prefer rumour over fact (“Diana’s forlorn plea’’, Opinion 3/7). The ramblings of a socialite journalist that Prince William wants to be Governor-General (“William wants to be next governor-general’’, 29/6) have clearly terrified Everingham, who knows that the prince would be extremely popular.
”Of course it was never on. The nomination would have required the sort of bipartisan support that both Prince George [Duke of Kent] (who was proposed as King of Poland before Hitler and Stalin put a stop to that) and Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, did. There would also have to be some way of ensuring that politicians did not bring the country to the brink, as Malcolm Fraser and Gough Whitlam did in 1975, and then blame the Governor-General and the constiutional system for their behaviour. (There is one way – it’s the citizen recall election hated by politicians but used in parts of Canada, the US and Switzerland.)
”As for the Duke of Gloucester, chosen and supported by our greatest prime ministers, John Curtin and Robert Menzies, the assessment of that great poet, publisher and prominent intellectual – and publicly republican before it became fashionable in Sydney and Melbourne salons – Max Harris is more germane than Everingham’s gossip. Harris’s assessment in The Bulletin in 1983 was that “the Duke of Gloucester was our greatest Governor-General.
David Flint etc”
As you will see, this was in response to an opinion piece published in The Australian on 3 July2007 by republican and self styled Royal Watcher Barry Everingham. In it he makes the impossible claim that he has an intimate knowledge of the thoughts, relations and the most confidential conversations of The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, Diana, Princess of Wales, and Prime Ministers John Major, Tony Blair and Bob Hawke. In other words, either he is in the Royal Family’s inner circle, or he knows people who are and who are willing to talk to him.
So who is Barry Everingham? As we reported in our column of 23 April 2006, he describes himself as “a Melbourne-based writer, [who] has been a commentator and writer on the British royal family for 30 years.” He doesn’t mention the fact that he enjoys a unique distinction among Australian journalists. He is the only one who has been expelled from the Canberra Parliamentary Press Gallery.
You may wonder what you would have to do to achieve that. According to Labor Senator Robert Ray (Hansard of 7 December, 1983) this was for “being found (in 1973), without authority, in a suite of offices occupied by [the then Prime Minister] Gough Whitlam”.
As we suggested in our report, perhaps Mr.Everingham had mistaken the door –they all look alike in old Parliament House. Perhaps the Everingham found in the prime minister’s office was the other Everingham, Paul. (He was once the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory and perhaps he had some business with Mr. Whitlam.) But the Parliament would not be swayed from expelling our republican Royal Watcher. They had it in for him.
According to Senator Susan Ryan, a well known republican, it was “widely believed that he was the author of a particularly unpleasant and unattractive little gossip column called ‘Betty’.” Apparently the column appeared in a “throwaway” Sunday newspaper called the Sunday Post. “Certainly, when it reached its demise, no citizen in Canberra regretted its disappearance,” observed Senator Ryan.
Such has been the professional formation of this republican Royal Watcher.